Put your political ideologies aside. Any US citizen not living under a rock knows that Healthcare in the United States is on pace to bankrupt the Country. The cost of Healthcare is climbing at a staggering rate. In turn, Medical Insurance rates are skyrocketing, diverting funds away from the rest of our economy, which, respectively, needs them.
As a result, Healthcare Reform is a hot topic in political obligations and is the basis for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. And while there has been much debate over the finer details, the essence of these Statutes is that everyone is required to obtain a minimum level of coverage. In exchange, Medical Insurance Companies must accept all applicants, regardless of their health status.
Arguments can and are being made on the legality and ethics of these Statutes. Unfortunately, there has been a massive diversion away from the primary healthcare challenges we face. No one has set out to deal with the more difficult components of Healthcare Reform, like why medical bills are so high in the first place.
How can we ever control the cost of Medical Insurance in the US when we can not control the cost of medical services?
The truth is Healthcare in the United States is a complex system of Doctors, Hospitals, Labs and other Medical Facilities, Pharmacies, Drug Companies, Government, Insurance Companies and their Networks, Insurance Agents and Patients. To fix Healthcare in the United States, all of these components must be carefully evaluated; something Healthcare Reform does not do in its current form.
Here are just a few contributing factors to the rising cost of Healthcare in the United States that have not been thoroughly addressed:
- Lack of Transparency. Patients and Doctors do not know how much the bill is going to be until after services are performed. There is no Standardized “Menu of Services” with a clear disclosure of cost.
- Cost Shifting among the insured. The exact same services are billed at different rates depending on what insurance company the patient has, if they're insured at all. If a Doctor loses money on a service he performs for an Insurance Company, that Doctor makes up the deficit by charging more somewhere else.
- End of life treatment. Some estimates put End End of Life Medical Care (medical care one receive in the last 12 months of life) at 33% of United States' total Medical Expenses. This was a subject of much debate during the 2008 Presidential Election, and terms like “Death Panels” became part of the discussion.
- Prescription Drug Coverage. Pharmaceutical Representatives incent Doctors to prescribe the latest, most expensive drugs, even when there are equally effective generic equivalents
- Tort Reform. Most experts agree that the actual cost of lawsuits is small. However, Physicians afraid of getting sued tend to run unnecessary tests as precautionary measures in an effort to thwart off litigious hungry lawyers and patients.
- Emergency Rooms are free. The Uninsured, Illegal Aliens and foreigners typically do not get routine and regular medical attention, like annual checksups. When they are at their sickest, they use the most expensive way to receive healthcare, Emergency Rooms. Then they do not pay. Those costs are then shifted to everyone else.
Unfortunately, our Politicians continue to fight over extreme ideologies that the majority of US Citizens do not subscribe to. Instead of coming up with real solutions to real problems, they have embarked on campaigns of mudslinging and name calling. They have welcomed our government to a complete standstill. Both Democrats and Republicans need to be held accountable for what they're doing to our beloved Country.